The Migratory Bird/Duck Stamp is the best kept secret in bird conservation. Buying the annual stamp is a simple, direct way for people to contribute to wetland and grassland conservation. This episode presents seven reasons to buy a stamp.
This is Playa Country — a weekly look at the wildlife, wetlands and prairies of the western Great Plains, and the people who manage them — brought to you by Playa Lakes Joint Venture, an organization dedicated to conserving birds and bird habitat.
We’re talking about the Migratory Bird, Hunting and Conservation Stamp, what we all call the Duck Stamp. Any person who hunts ducks, geese, swans or brant, and is 16 or older, must carry a current Duck stamp on which they’ve signed their name in ink. Today, seven reasons why you should buy a duck stamp — even if you’re not a hunter.
First: At $25, the stamp is a bargain for wildlife conservation, because 98 percent of the price goes directly to conservation, says avian writer and editor Paul Baicich.
“It goes to the resource, to protect all kinds of wildlife, all kinds of birds. It is primarily destined to and intended to secure wetland habitat and grassland habitat — that covers a lot of species. And it’s a way that all Americans can participate.”
Second: The more than 560 National Wildlife Refuges across the country are protected havens for birds and other wildlife. Since 1934, Duck Stamp revenue has helped create more than 250 of those refuges — for example, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in central Kansas. Paul Baicich says, most of Quivira was paid for with Duck Stamp revenue.
“Ninety-nine point one percent was the figure. Maxwell in New Mexico, which I think is right on the edge of your area… 75 or 76 percent of that was.”
Third: The funds help protect some three million acres of Waterfowl Production Areas in the critical Prairie Pothole region of the Dakotas, and help protect declining prairie-nesting birds in the face of increasing loss of grasslands.
Fourth: More than just waterfowl, Duck Stamp revenues give refuge to all manner of birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, wild mammals, grasses and forbes. Those creatures and plants share the protected wildlife refuges. Listen to Seth Gallagher, of Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory.
Really, it is far more wide-reaching than just ducks. There’s a lot of non-game species that benefit from it as well. If you look at some of the most popular birding destinations, in a lot of states those are wildlife refuges. And while the intent may be to produce ducks, they are fantastic habitat for other waterbirds and terrestrial birds in the uplands. So, benefits of the Duck Stamp are far beyond just ducks.”
Fifth: Some of the most diverse and wildlife-rich refuges in the nation, have been acquired with stamp funds.
Sixth: David Sibley, a bird illustrator, and the author of The Sibley Guide to Birds, reminds people the duck stamp is a year-long pass to all federal refuges that charge admission.
“At lot of bird watchers started buying Duck Stamps to get an annual pass to get into any Wildlife Refuge, and gradually it has become more and more popular ,and more widespread, to buy a Duck Stamp.”
Seventh: The duck stamp is a beautiful collectible. Since 1949, the design of each year’s duck stamp has been chosen in an open art contest. The writer Paul Baicich recalls the event several years ago.
“There was a contest in Ohio on the Duck Stamp, and there were 200 pieces of art that were judged. They picked a wonderful piece, a pair of Canvasback by Adam Grimm from South Dakota. This is a subculture within the bird hunting and bird watching and art communities that intersect.”
Seven reasons why non-hunters could buy the annual duck stamp — available at post offices, most sporting goods stores and other venues where hunting licenses are sold.
Playa Country, a weekly show about the wildlife, people and landscapes of the western Great Plains. Made possible by the Playa Lakes and Rainwater Basin Joint Ventures.
Original broadcast: January 2014